Human Rights in Nicaragua to Continue under UN Observation
UN approves two more years for the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua
The extension of the group’s mandate was approved on April 3rd, via a resolution that received 21 votes in favor, 5 against and 21 abstentions
HAVANA TIMES – The United Nations Human Rights Council has extended the mandate of the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua for an additional two years. This is the group that concluded that Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo committed crimes against humanity from 2018 up through the present. The group’s extension was approved on April 3rd, via a resolution that passed with 21 votes in favor, 5 opposed and 21 abstentions.
The resolution was brought before the session of the UN Human Rights Committee by representatives of Costa Rica, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. It included an “urgent call” to Daniel Ortega’s government authorities to “immediately cease” arbitrary arrests, free all the political prisoners and establish mechanism for combatting impunity.
The approved text of the resolution also demanded that the Nicaraguan government take measures to guarantee the independence of the justice system and the electoral authorities, as well as the country’s security forces; and to end government interference in these bodies, which has been evidenced by the arbitrary imprisonment and expulsions from the country decreed by judges and other functionaries.
The resolution was backed by Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ukraine, Rumania, Montenegro, Lithuania, Mexico, South Africa, Morocco, Malawi, the United States, Paraguay, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The five countries opposing it were China, Cuba, Eritrea, Algeria and Vietnam. Another twenty-one countries abstained, among them Bolivia and Honduras, which in past voting had been direct supporters of the Ortega regime.
The Group of Experts is composed of Jan Simon of Germany; Angela Buitrago of Colombia; and Chilean Alexandro Alvarez. Its latest report – also presented during the current meeting of the Human Rights Council – concluded that Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo had committed crimes against humanity from 2018 up through the present. The report recommended that the international community begin legal actions under the principle of universal justice against individuals responsible for the violations, abuses and crimes that have been documented in Nicaragua.
The April 3rd resolution was roundly rejected by the Nicaraguan delegation. Attorney General Wendy Morales asserted that the document was based on “false and distorted information, presented in an unjust form, as part of a media campaign against [the Nicaraguan government].”
Morales spoke before the UN Human Rights Committee to demand that it “stick to its mandate of non-intervention.” The delegations from Cuba and China also spoke in support of the Nicaraguan regime.
“We don’t accept any resolution or report whose contents are based on distorted information, drawn from sources that oppose our government, under cover of a false interest in our country and its population, when said report contains information that lacks objectivity and is marked by political and interventionist bias,” stated Morales.
Report asks for investigation of crimes against humanity
The Human Rights Committee also expressed its concern for the “intensification of the restrictions to civic and democratic spaces, and of the repression” against political opponents of the Ortega regime. Similarly, they urged the regime to “combat impunity and guarantee accountability and justice to the victims of human rights violations.” In order to achieve this, they propose the realization of independent, transparent and impartial investigations regarding the multiple forms of repression and violence that have been denounced by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights since April 2018.
The Group of Experts was created on March 31 by the UN Human Rights Committee with a mandate to investigate the human rights violations in Nicaragua between 2018 and 2022. In May 2022, the three independent members of the group were named; one month later, the regime of Daniel Ortega rejected these members’ request to be allowed into the country.
In the resolution, the countries also requested: “that the renewal of the mandate be made immediately effective, along with all the administrative and legal measures to guarantee that its labors not be interrupted, and to ask the Secretary General to afford the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua all the administrative, technical, security, legal, informational and logistical support, as well as the necessary resources to fulfill its mandate.”
A call for the return of the “stateless” Nicaraguans
Regarding the withdrawal of nationality in February from more than 300 critics of the government and the banishment of 222 of them, the UN Committee demanded that Ortega respect the political and civil rights of citizens, including the right to nationality.
The Committee requested that the Ortega government offer the conditions so that those who wish can return to their country, “without fear of new reprisals.”
Mentioned in particular was the case of the indigenous rights defender, Alexa Alfred Cunningham, who last February was prevented —by government order— from returning to Nicaragua after having participated in a meeting of a group of UN experts in Geneva, of which she is a part.
The Council has also urged Nicaragua to fully cooperate with the Human Rights Office and all UN bodies working in this field, notably allowing them to enter the country and visit detention centers without restrictions.